Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

My boyfriend and I met in November 2019 and jumped into a thing quickly. I met his family, and we stayed over at each other’s house the entire weekend every week. We didn’t become an “official” couple until February 2020.

Well, I found out a month before we became official — January 2020 — he hooked up with one of his sister's best friends. He denied it at first and eventually came clean. He said he didn’t want to ruin his chance with me, which is why he denied it. He apologized, but it’s been hard to let go of that. I understand we weren’t “official,” but I thought we were exclusive at that point.

Fast forward a year and a half later; this woman has been hanging out more with his sister since that is her “BFF,” and I just don’t know how to feel about her. I know it’s not her fault; I doubt she even knew about me at that point. Am I unreasonable for not wanting her around? I feel guilty because I feel like I’m controlling  my boyfriend and don’t want to keep him from his other friends, but the thought of her being around doesn’t sit well with me. Am I letting my past traumas and insecurities get the best of me? Should I be okay with her being around? I just don’t know!

Signed, Not Over It

Dear, Not Over It

This is definitely a tricky situation. I want to first state that how you feel is how you feel. You’re not overreacting. You’re not irrational. You don’t need to feel bad about your emotions. All you can do is recognize your feelings, consider where they’re coming from, and decide what needs to happen to make you comfortable.

It’s not my place to say whether your boyfriend had the right to sleep with this woman while you were unofficially dating. You already chose to forgive him (or at the very least accepted the situation). But I am curious how much you trust him, especially if you both didn’t do the work to repair your trust when you felt it was broken.

Your boyfriend and your sister’s best friend sleeping together isn’t a big deal, from an objective standpoint. Sure, they’ve seen each other naked, but anyone who’s been in a serious relationship before knows that an encounter like that doesn’t hold nearly as much value in someone’s life as the person they choose to be in a relationship with. I know it feels horrible to think about, but everyone has sexual pasts.  

What is a big deal is the trust in your relationship. You say the incident between him and this woman really upset you. And if the mere thought of your boyfriend hanging out with her fills you with dread, I’d venture to say you’re nowhere close to over it, which is perfectly fine!

Have you had a serious conversation with your boyfriend about this? Have you talked about how you felt betrayed by him since you thought you were exclusive? To be okay with your boyfriend and this woman hanging out, you need to solidify trust in the relationship. And you can’t do that if you don’t tell your boyfriend everything you’ve told me. Don’t skip over a single thought or feeling.

Once you do that, the question remains: how can you feel okay with this woman's presence in your life? It’s great that you don’t want to control your boyfriend’s life, and I agree that you shouldn't dictate his every move. But that doesn’t mean you need to be perfectly fine every time his sister’s BFF comes around. Far from, actually.

In this situation, boundaries are going to be your best friend. When do you feel triggered the most? Create a boundary for that. What actions do you need from your boyfriend to feel more okay with the situation? Create a boundary for that.

A clear boundary you talked about already is not having this woman over at your house. Another could be that you want to know when your boyfriend is hanging out with his sister and her best friend. Both are reasonable limits. Maybe one day your boundaries won’t be so strict but, for now, these expectations will help you feel a bit better about the situation.

In no way are you wrong for feeling the way you do. I’d venture to say you moved on too quickly from the incident, and there’s lingering resentment there. Or maybe all you’re experiencing is that knot-in-your-stomach feeling of knowing your boyfriend slept with someone who’s in the same room as you. Regardless, talking to him about this and creating boundaries is your key to feeling better.

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